Which Would You Rather I Should Do

by the American Sunday-School Union

"Which would you rather I should do?" asked Eddie of his mother, his large blue eyes filling with tears.

"I should rather you would stay with me," was the answer.

"Then I will, mother!" and the tears remained where they were, and did not chase each other down his plump cheeks. A trembling smile played around his mouth; for he had conquered himself, and had readily yielded to his mother's wishes. There had been a struggle, severe, but short, in his mind, and when he said, "Then I will, mother," he meant he could be happy to stay at home, and would not ask again for permission to go with the other children. Mrs. Dudley could not resist the impulse to clasp him to her heart, and tell him he was a good boy; and this made him still happier. He saw he had pleased her, and her approving smile was worth more to him than any enjoyment could be without it.

Eddie, you know, is a little boy, five years old. He has brothers and sisters older than himself, and they have fine sport in sliding and skating. Their teacher takes them every day to enjoy it, and they come home in high spirits, swinging their skates by their sides, and talking loud and fast about it.

Eddie has watched them many days from the nursery window, and has longed to be with them; but his careful mother has feared he would get hurt among so many skaters, or perhaps be lost in one of those "air-holes" which are often found in the most solid ice; so when Eddie asked her if he might go to the river, she hesitated, for she did not like to deny him. "Which would you rather I would do?" then inquired the dear boy; and when his mother told him, he did not tease her, but resumed his place at the window.

Mrs. Dudley resolved to go herself with her little son to the river, when the children went again. She did not tell him so, however; but the next day, when the merry skaters were in the midst of their enjoyment, she put on her hood, and her warm blanket-shawl, and thick gloves, and calling Eddie to her, wrapped him in his wadded coat and woollen tippet, and placing on his head his "liberty-cap,"—knit of red and black worsted, with a tassel dangling from the point—and pulling it well down over his ears, and covering his fat hands with warm mittens, they started out on the white snow. The snow was frozen sufficiently to bear them, and they had a pleasant walk above the hidden grass and stones.

Eddie was in great glee. His mother enjoyed it almost as much as he did, for it was an exhilarating sight. Some of the boys were sliding, some skating, and others pushing sleds before them, on which a mother or sister were sitting. It reminded one of the pictures we often see of skating in Holland; and, to make the resemblance more perfect, a Dutchman was there with his pipe, defiling the pure, fresh air with its foul odour.

Mrs. Dudley was invited to take a ride, and, leaving Eddie in the care of another, she was soon seated on one of the sleds, and speeding away before a rapid skater. She found it far more swift and agreeable than riding in the usual way. Eddie, too, had a ride, and his little heart was brimfull of happiness. He walked about on the ice quite carefully and fearlessly.

The river, on which these children were, rises and falls with the tide. Eddie saw other boys sliding off towards an icy meadow bordering on it, and he thought he would go too. The ice formed an inclined plane; his feet slipped on its smooth surface, and down he went; he jumped up, but the blood from his nose, flowing over his face and coat, and staining the snow, frightened him, and he uttered a loud cry. The skaters were with him before his mother, though she was but a few steps away, for she could not move as quickly as they. It was pleasant to see their sympathy, and hear their kind inquiries. His mother soon comforted him; for he had not been cut by the ice as they feared. The blood from his nose testified to a pretty hard bump. He soon forgot the pain, and was as happy as ever. He will long remember his first sled ride on the river.

Why do you think, dear children, I have told you this story about a child whom you have never seen? I wanted to ask you, or rather have you ask yourselves, if you are willing, as Eddie was, to do as your mother thinks best? Much as he wanted to go on the river, he felt satisfied to do as his mother wished. I hope, when you know what your mother prefers, you will make up your minds to give up your own plans, and be happy in doing so.

I am not one of those who imagine children have no trials. I know their lives are not all bright and sunny. I have not forgotten being a child myself. Many a hard battle has to be fought with wrong feelings and wrong wishes; but never fear; resolve to conquer yourselves, and subdue every thing that is sinful. Every victory will make you stronger, and render it easier for you to do right. Will you try?

"If at first you don't succeed, Try, try again."